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March 9, 2022

Canada’s nurses mark pandemic anniversary with our public health system still in crisis

Health Human Resources
Media Release
Nursing Shortage

Silas: “After two years of pandemic, health care workers don’t need sympathy, we need concrete, lasting solutions to dire health worker shortages.

March 9, 2022 (OTTAWA, ON) – March 11 marks two years since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. For Canada’s nurses, this marks two years of hollow praise from governments while continually being asked to do more.

“Frontline health workers have had to shoulder too much of the pandemic burden – worsening patient ratios and forced overtime while facing increased violence, harassment and unsafe workplaces,” said Linda Silas, President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU). “Nurses across the country are coming together to say enough is enough.”

A recent CFNU survey found that 94% of nurses are experiencing symptoms of burnout, and 50% of nurses said they are considering leaving their jobs over the next year. Without urgent action, the current crisis will only get worse.

“Whether from rural and remote communities or large cities, the message I hear from nurses is the same: this is a crisis like we’ve never seen before,” said Silas. “Nurses are working 16- to 24-hour shifts while services are being shut down or hospitals are forced to close altogether. This is threatening the future of the public health care system Canadians hold so dear.”

The CFNU has been urging governments to adopt a pan-Canadian health human resources action plan focused on innovative retention and recruitment programs, including establishing a national body mandated to support health workforce planning, backed by a critically needed increase to federal health investments.

“In communities across the country, nurses and the patients they care for are paying the price. Without nurses, a bed is simply a bed,” said Silas. “Federal and provincial governments must work with us on lasting, concrete solutions, with real accountability and backed by sufficient funding. Only working together can we save our cherished public health care system and properly support the workforce that sustains it.”


The CFNU is Canada’s largest nurses’ organization, representing about 200,000 nurses and student nurses, and advocating on key health priorities and federal engagement in public health care.

For more information, please contact:
Ben René,, 613-406-5962